With the NCAA Tournament around the corner, Ole Miss basketball, led by head coach Andy Kennedy, is looking to turn it up a notch. After conceding a winnable game to the University of Tennessee last week, the Rebels knew they couldn’t afford to drop another one.
Things started to look up after a huge come-from-behind victory against Auburn, especially with SEC basement-dweller LSU next up on the schedule, but a poor first half saw the Tigers jump out to an early 47-43 lead. Kennedy looked to his team for a leader, someone to take control of the second half. He put his trust in Terence Davis.
That trust paid off. Once the final whistle had blown, Davis, a shooting guard from Southaven, had dropped a career-high 33 points against LSU. It was the latest in an increasingly impressive string of games for the Rebel, including a 26-point outing against Auburn the week before. After averaging just 1.8 points per game last year, the sophomore now averages 14.3 points and 5.5 rebounds per game.
“You could see I had a rhythm going. Basketball is mostly a rhythm game,” Davis said. “When you get a rhythm going, it’s hard to stop that rhythm.”
Unfortunately for Davis, foul trouble has prevented him from finding that rhythm for large stretches of the season. He has fouled out of three games this season and averages almost 3.5 personal fouls per game. For Kennedy, keeping Davis in play has always been a priority.
“We need him on the floor,” Kennedy said. “He’s getting better and better. He did it in 27 minutes with three fouls.”
For Davis, the name of the game is improvement.
“I picked up a couple quick ones in the first half, and I was, kind of, a little upset because I want to play so badly and help the team out,” Davis said. “But I came out second half pretty good. I don’t think I picked up a foul, and I got to stay in the game.
With an RPI in the 50s, Ole Miss is right on the postseason bubble. Davis, 6 feet, 4 inches tall and now 201 pounds, has no illusions about what it will take to be a part of March Madness.
“We’ve got, what, five more games in the regular season? I mean, we’ve got to at least get four of the five and make some noise in the SEC Tournament,” Davis said. “Coach always puts in our ear that we’re right there, top six in the league. There’s opportunities out there.”
For now, it seems as though he’s right. If the Rebels win out over and put up a good fight against No. 21 USC, their tournament hopes may survive. In order for that to happen, though, Davis will need to be at his very best. And if the past few games have been any indication of the current trend, Davis’ best is yet to come.